When did Italian prisoners of war start working on Australian farms?
The scheme for placing Italian prisoners of war on farms was developed to address a severe labour shortage in rural communities. By July 1943, the scheme had already been trialed in Connabarabran (N1) and Hamilton (V1) and its large scale roll out was announced:
1943 ‘PRISONERS OF WAR’, Camden News (NSW : 1895 – 1954), 8 July, p. 1. , viewed 29 Jul 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140588760
I have heard people mention that the reason the Italians were sent to work on farms was Italy’s surrender on 8th September 1943. But this was not so. As the newspaper article confirms, Italian POWs were working on farms before July 1943.
What was a Prisoner of War Control Centre or PWCC?
A control centre was an office space and residential quarters for the Australian Military Forces (AMF) staff who organised the placement of Italians to farmers. It also included a detention room, stores and in some centres temporary accommodation for the Italians. The AMF staff included a captain, interpreter, driver.
PWCC on a record card indicates the placement of the centre eg Q2 PWCC Nambour = the second centre in Queensland (Q) was established at Nambour.
What was a Prisoner of War Control Hostel or PWCH?
A control hostel was a complex including barracks and facilities for a group of Italian prisoners of war and AMF staff. Those Italians who were sent to a hostel, worked as a group (large scale) on a government project eg S13 PWCH Mt Burr-Mt Gambier-Penola = the 13th centre established in South Australia (S). Hostels were set up for Italians to work in three forestry zones, the men were employed by Conservator of Forestry (a South Australian government department).
A list of camps, hostels and centres for each state can be found at: italianprisonersofwar.com/pow-camps-in-australia/
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